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Old 06-02-08, 06:45 PM   #1
BottleRocket
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Memorizing License Plates

As I was descending Mt. Tam today I got passed dangerously by a guy in a red BMW. I wasn't going slow, but probably just under the posted speed limit of 35 mph. I was using the whole lane when the guy passed (it was a curvey part of the descent) and I had no idea he was behind me. No warning whatsoever from him, just whoosh......... about 6 inches from my handlebars. I could have very easily veered into his path before he passed. I sped up and got his license plate number before I let him go in case I happened to see a CHP cruiser. I sometimes try to practice getting quick glimpses of license plates and memorizing them to kill time on long solo rides in case something like this happens.

So my questions are: If I had been able to flag down a CHP and given them the description of the vehicle and license plate number, what would they do with it in this situation? Pulled the driver over and given him a warning? Would it go on the drivers record? Would law enforcement care or give me the "We'll see what we can do" treatment.

Anyway, I still think this little memorization skill is a good one to have. You never know.....

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Old 06-02-08, 06:50 PM   #2
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So from my experience probably nothing. He would tell you to either call non-emergency line or stop by the department to file report. Also there is a high probability that you would get a lecture for taking the whole lane.
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Old 06-02-08, 07:05 PM   #3
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If you can memorize it for just a few minutes, stop and text message it to yourself.
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Old 06-02-08, 07:39 PM   #4
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This reminds me of something that happened soon after I moved to the Bay Area.

I was cycling to school, and was in downtown Palo Alto.

I was in the lane and signaled to turn left, as there was a car about a block behind me.
Well, they decided to zoom up and pass me on the left.

I had just moved out from Connecticut and spent quite a bit of time in NYC, so I decided to give him the birdy, which is so common in NY it's practically the same as saying "good morning" to someone. I held it up long enough to make sure he saw it.

He apparently took that quite amiss, so he came around the next block, stopped, jumped out of his car and got in front of me. He waved his fists in my face and screamed at me. He didn't end up hitting me, but he did shove me (straddling my bike) and knocked me over.

As he stormed back to his car, I called out after him, "Your license plate # is XXXXXX and I'm calling the cops."

Well, this was in the days before cell phones were commonplace, so I didn't have one, and I unfortunately forgot it a few minutes later, I was too upset.

I was also upset that the bystanders hanging out in PA just stood there and watched and didn't intervene or say anything.
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Old 06-02-08, 09:30 PM   #5
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I was forced off the road,intentionally. They returned to do it again. I called the CHP and had to demand an officer come see me personally while I was on the side of the road wondering if they were coming back again. I gave a description of the driver and passenger, their actions, the car and it's plate. I was told that because I probably couldn't pick the driver out a lineup, because she was wearing sunglasses, there was nothing they could do. (So I guess if they had killed me, an eyewitness would be useless?) I told the officer that I was sure the firefighter,(personalized firefighter plate) might want to know what his/her child was doing on the road. He agreed and did contact the vehicle's owner. Result:nothing. Next time I call the County Sheriff and flash my Sheriff Dept. ID. (I'm involved in SAR, Marijuana Eradication,etc.).That should work better. The CHP officer saw a bicycle, a toy to him, not an adult who was assaulted and had to leave the road to avoid being killed. I always get a wave back from the Sheriff deputies. I'll count on them to handle it. But if a driver gets out of the car to come after me, it's on. I will use any means I feel are necessary to protect myself. And then I'll call the cops.
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Old 06-02-08, 10:02 PM   #6
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My guess: You'd be ticketed for annoying an on-duty officer. Perhaps beaten as well. Certainly your bicycle and cell phone would be confiscated. You would get points on your license. It would go in your permanent record. The driver would be offered police protection. Your employer might be notified. You could be barred from voting in future elections.
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Old 06-02-08, 10:56 PM   #7
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My guess: You'd be ticketed for annoying an on-duty officer. Perhaps beaten as well. Certainly your bicycle and cell phone would be confiscated. You would get points on your license. It would go in your permanent record. The driver would be offered police protection. Your employer might be notified. You could be barred from voting in future elections.
Well.......as long as it doesn't effect my credit score I guess.

Seriously, I started this habit (quickly memorizing plates) last year after a SUV full of teenagers pulled up slowly beside me on Paradise Drive and sprayed winshield wiper fluid on me. It got on my face but luckily I had my shades on. For some reason I decided to chase them (Not sure what I thought I would do to them if I caught up.........spray/throw water bottle at them? Stupid). After they took off I spotted a CHP in the parking lot of Blackies Pasture off Tiburon Blvd. eating lunch (In-n-Out...mmmmmmm) and gave her the story. She seemed sympathetic and interested in the description of the SUV, but I was so angry I forgot to notice the plates on it. Wasn't really anything she could do at that point.
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Old 06-02-08, 11:33 PM   #8
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So my questions are: If I had been able to flag down a CHP and given them the description of the vehicle and license plate number, what would they do with it in this situation? Pulled the driver over and given him a warning? Would it go on the drivers record? Would law enforcement care or give me the "We'll see what we can do" treatment.
You would get " Okay, I'll put it out on the radio". Meaning.. even if we found the guy, what just happened was an unsafe pass. An infraction, it could have resulted in negligent homicide, but it didn't and therefore you only have an infraction. A misdemeanor not commited in the presence of an officer is the same as it not happening at all.

Best case: You make a citizens arrest. Detain driver and vehicle. Flag down ANY law enforcement person. Hand over your arrestee to them. At this point they have to take them. BUT the catch is, once they receive custody of your arrestee they can use their own judgement (again infraction/misdemeanor) and just let the dumbass go.

Worst case: The dirtbag in the Beemer has a lawyer on speed dial and he sets up to file a lawsuit for an unlawful detention. In this case you'll be up the creek. You'll end up in court spending time and money. Not really worth it if you ask me.

I'm glad he missed you, and it sucks that even if you did give his plate to the cops that they wouldn't do anything. In the end, for an event like this, unless the cops see it.. Its a "He Said" "He Said". This would be the same as the police stopping you on your ride and reading you the riot act because you match the description of a "Guy on a bike who blew a stop sign and caused panic in some old lady".

As far as memorizing plates.. I do it a lot, mostly just to keep my mind occupied when I'm starting to struggle, but I also realized the other day, that if I can see the plate.. the car is infront of me, and I can see it.. its the one you can't see that is the trouble.
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Old 06-02-08, 11:51 PM   #9
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If I had been able to flag down a CHP and given them the description of the vehicle and license plate number, what would they do with it in this situation?
I sympathize with your plight, but I'm afraid the reaction of most officers would be similar to this.

That said, it probably can't hurt to report it.
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Old 06-03-08, 10:59 AM   #10
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Thanks Ty, that's pretty much what I was looking for. A little depressing though.
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Old 06-03-08, 11:51 AM   #11
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The solution, although it would suck would be to license bicyles like automobiles. Then people that complain about us taking up the road and having no rights to the whole lane (even though the law says we do) wouldn't be able to say that since we pay fess and taxes just like "they" do! Thus have the same rights to the road as they do.

Then, as licensed vehicles if we get run off the road we'd have more pull because we could be treated as vehicles and, just like another car getting run off the road, we could get the cops to view us more seriously as vehicles and do something viable about it instead of just, eh, too bad [you're a cyclist on a toy so this means nothing to me].

That also means that we'd have to follow the same road rules as every other cager... which we are supposed to do anyway!

I'm sure my idea has tons of loop holes but it's a thought....
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Old 06-03-08, 12:26 PM   #12
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Gee your idea is good, but EXPENSIVE. If we are operating on the road as licensed vehicles then guess what.. INSURANCE. Not to mention your bike would be subject to operating requirements mandated by knuckleheads in Sacramento that know nothing of a functioning bike.

Good idea if we had smarter people in charge, but alas we don't.
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Old 06-03-08, 12:43 PM   #13
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This reminds me of something that happened soon after I moved to the Bay Area.

I was cycling to school, and was in downtown Palo Alto.

I was in the lane and signaled to turn left, as there was a car about a block behind me.
Well, they decided to zoom up and pass me on the left.

I had just moved out from Connecticut and spent quite a bit of time in NYC, so I decided to give him the birdy, which is so common in NY it's practically the same as saying "good morning" to someone. I held it up long enough to make sure he saw it.

He apparently took that quite amiss, so he came around the next block, stopped, jumped out of his car and got in front of me. He waved his fists in my face and screamed at me. He didn't end up hitting me, but he did shove me (straddling my bike) and knocked me over.

As he stormed back to his car, I called out after him, "Your license plate # is XXXXXX and I'm calling the cops."

Well, this was in the days before cell phones were commonplace, so I didn't have one, and I unfortunately forgot it a few minutes later, I was too upset.

I was also upset that the bystanders hanging out in PA just stood there and watched and didn't intervene or say anything.

Beats having bystanders stand by and laugh while you get mugged. Real story.
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Old 06-03-08, 01:36 PM   #14
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I was also upset that the bystanders hanging out in PA just stood there and watched and didn't intervene or say anything.
It's a group mentality. Actually I think there have been studies done, and more people around the less likely you would get help. Since the blame of not doing anything is shifted to other people around.
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Old 06-03-08, 01:49 PM   #15
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Kitty Genovese is the most famous example of the bystander effect.

My friend did a summer internship in North Carolina (wish I knew which town in was). He had constant harassment from the local vehicles when he was riding his road bike. Salt Lake City was a lot friendlier.

The strangest incident I ever had was when I finished coming down Alpine Road from the dirt trail to where I had parked by Willowbrook Road, and I noticed the driver of the car who had been behind me had stopped and started taking down my license plate. He said I was going too fast! I memorized his license plate. Never did get a call from the cops about my speeding...
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Old 06-03-08, 02:47 PM   #16
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Make friends with cops. Have them run the plate and give you the info... Domino's deliveries, inappropriate mailing lists, invite solicitors, etc.

Just an idea. Horrible one at that.
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Old 06-03-08, 04:23 PM   #17
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Make friends with cops. Have them run the plate and give you the info... Domino's deliveries, inappropriate mailing lists, invite solicitors, etc.

Just an idea. Horrible one at that.
No not really, but here is the problem. That is illegal for the police to do. They can't just run random plates. The problem is the querry runs though the DMV database and is also logged at the department switch. If you call a cop buddy and have him run a plate while he / she is at work.. and that plate comes back to a stolen car, from a car jacking that left 2 people dead, then all hell is going to break loose in the department, and the department from which the car originated from would be notified. Chances of that happening are pretty remote, but your friend is going to be in some poop.
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Old 06-03-08, 05:12 PM   #18
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No not really, but here is the problem. That is illegal for the police to do. They can't just run random plates. The problem is the querry runs though the DMV database and is also logged at the department switch. If you call a cop buddy and have him run a plate while he / she is at work.. and that plate comes back to a stolen car, from a car jacking that left 2 people dead, then all hell is going to break loose in the department, and the department from which the car originated from would be notified. Chances of that happening are pretty remote, but your friend is going to be in some poop.
Just sharing that information with you could get that officer in deep poop. I wouldn't want to put my buddy in that situation.
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Old 06-03-08, 09:01 PM   #19
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Didn't I say it was a horrible idea?
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Old 06-03-08, 09:44 PM   #20
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Didn't I say it was a horrible idea?
And I agree!
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